Jan 202014


Texas Wine Exports in 1859

“Trade of Western Texas – The Indianola Courier, of the 17th gives a table of the imports and exports for the year ending… of the flourishing port of Indianola on Matagord Bay, where most of the Gulf Coast forwarding trade of Western Texas is done…

The exports were to New Orleans, principally; to New York, Mobile, Pensacola, Biloxi, Havana and Bremen; they were:

  • 28,622 bales of cotton, of which 19,304 to this port;
  • 1,675 bales of wool;
  • 350 hhds. sugar;
  • 838 bbls. Molasses;
  • 16,002 head of cattle;
  • 33,100 hides;
  • 187 bales peltries;
  • 26,508 bushels pecans;
  • 14,151 bushels corn, mostly to Pensacola;
  • 992 slabs of Mexican lead;
  • 1,126 sundry packages;
  • Besides several thousand pounds of Texas bacon, Texas wine in casks, Texas butter, Texas sea island cotton, and Mexican copper;
  • Sheep, horses and mules…showing a very large increase over the previous year.

The value of the exports is $2,500,000.”

—- From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 23, 1859.

VintageTexas Note: This is the earliest reference to Texas wine in newspaper articles found thus far. If you know of any that predate this reference to Texas wine in the New Orleans Times Picayune, please let us know.

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Jan 162014


Wine Enthusiast Names Texas Hill Country One of the 10 Best International Wine Travel Destinations

The Texas Hill Country Wineries announced today, it has been selected as one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2014” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in their January issue.  The non-profit association boasts 38 wineries located in Central Texas.

Each year, the magazine narrows from the hundreds of global wine regions they visit to just 10 for this annual ‘best of’ list.  Included among the selected wine regions, Texas Hill Country is one of only three regions from the United States.  Alexis Korman, Senior Associate Editor for Wine Enthusiast Media, visited the Texas Hill Country in Fall 2013, identifying all 6 wineries she toured in the article.

“Visitors may flock to Texas Hill Country to sip wine,” says Korman, “but they end up drinking in the romance of the Old West, too.”

[VintageTexas - I will add that not to many Texas's fine wines get outside our state's borders. So, the best way for wine lovers from New York, California, Italy, Spain, France or even Australia to experience the quality of Texas wine is to make the Texas Hill Country their wine destination. In many regards, it is like visiting California's wine regions in their formative years in the 1970-80s. There are lots of hidden gems just waiting to be found and savored. You just have to look at the results of the recent an Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition to find a really good Texas wine you will like. See: List at txwinelover.com]

“It is an honor to be included in the list of prominent wine regions from around the world,” says January Wiese, Executive Director of Texas Hill Country Wineries.  “The Texas Hill Country has been a travel destination to many for years.  To be recognized along with global regions in the growing and evolving wine industry is truly exciting to our organization and our winery members.”

Texas is the number 5 wine-producing state in the US with the Texas Hill Country AVA being the second largest in the nation.  Spanish and Italian varietals grow well in the Hill Country including Tempranillo, Viognier, Sangiovese and Tannat.  The six wineries mentioned in the article: Lewis Wines, Flat Creek Estate, Perissos Vineyards and Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Bending Branch Winery and Driftwood Estate Winery, are an outstanding representation for what the entire region has to offer.

For additional information on Texas Hill Country Wineries and member wineries, please visit www.TexasWineTrail.com.

 Posted by at 11:23 am
Dec 122013


Twitter Tasting of Top Texas Wines of 2013 (Tues. Dec. 17 7-8 pm)

Next Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 7-8 p.m., Jessica Dupuy and Denise Clarke will lead a Twitter Tasting with Jessica’s selections of Texas Monthly’s Top Texas Wines of 2013.  You are invited to join them, other Texas wine aficionados and me for this Twitter Texas Wine Taste and Tweet.  Don’t forget to use the hashtag #TXwine on your tweets.

Here is the list of Top Texas Wines of 2013: http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/best-texas-wines-2013

Please pick up one or more of these fine Texas wines or some of your personal favorites then share your tastes and tweets with the group online.You can also try a few Texas holiday wine and food pairings and “share”. Here are a few ideas from Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and me:

A Holiday Food & Texas Wine Pairing: Feast of the Seven Fishes




Taste, Tweet and Repeat! More Tastes, More Tweets, More Fun!

This is great way to taste your way across Texas and toast the holiday season with friends.

 Posted by at 11:43 am
Dec 092013

The Binghams Acquire Pheasant Ridge Winery and Vineyard

December 9, 2013 – Continuing its mission of providing exceptional quality products to Texans, Cliff Bingham, President of Bingham Family Cellars, LLC announced today that the company has completed its acquisition of Pheasant Ridge Winery and its vineyards.

“We’re excited to welcome Pheasant Ridge to the Bingham family,” said Bingham. “Pheasant Ridge has a long standing tradition of making award winning wine from High Plains grapes. Acquiring the winery is a strategic step in expanding our products and meeting the demand for high quality vinifera grapes and wine from Texas. We are thrilled to have the original Pheasant Ridge founder and winegrower, Bobby Cox, on our team.”

Pheasant Ridge Winery was founded in 1979 with the goal of offering boutique wines made from estate grapes. The assets included in the purchase are: winery facility, 25 acres of vinifera wine grapes, and a tasting room.

Cliff Bingham has been a fourth generation farmer in Terry County, Texas for 35 years. For the last 20 years, Bingham has worked as a pioneer in the Texas organic cotton and peanut markets. Ten years ago, he diversified his row crop farming operation by planting grape vines. Together with his wife, children, and other family members, Cliff currently grows 245 acres of wine grapes in the Texas High Plains AVA. This includes 12 varieties of red grapes and 14 varieties of white grapes that are sold to outstanding winery customers around the state. The addition of a full service winery will facilitate diversification and progress for the Binghams.

Inquiries may be directed to Alexis Bingham or Betty Bingham (806-585-6616 binghamfamilyvineyards@gmail.com)

 Posted by at 4:51 pm
Nov 282013

Chef Terry Thompson Anderson

A Holiday Food & Texas Wine Pairing: Feast of the Seven Fishes

Earlier this year, I had a chance for work with friend Chef Terry Thompson Anderson on one of the most intensive food and wine pairing and writing projects in my 15 year career in Texas wines (second only to our now famous 2011 Edible Texas Wine and Food Match). This pairing was based on the Feast of the Seven Fishes of Italian tradition, but done Texas Style.

You can get the full dosage of our efforts in the November issue of Marla Camps, Edible Austin magazine. With its emphasis on Cooks at Home, Cooking Basics and Sustainable Kitchen, this annual issue, simply named “COOKS”, is worthy of your kitchen library or archive. You can also get a peek at our Seven Fishes article and Chef Terry’s recipes and my Texas wine pairings at:


At first blush, The Feast of the Seven Fishes: Texas Style, might seem somewhat of strange twist on Italian tradition for a Texas wine and food experience. The history of this feast originates from Italian tradition based on the Christmas Eve celebration of the Vigilia di Natale in Italy (See article or link for the significance of the number seven).

The Texas connection actually came at the turn of the 20th century when a flood of Sicilians settled in Galveston and the lower Brazos Valley while northern Italians moved farther inland. The bountiful Gulf Coast waters, with their delicious grouper, calamari, blue crabs, shrimp, briny oysters and more, became the new palette for this particular year end holiday feast.

The preparation for this Texas wine and food pairing extravaganza came at mid-year, far in advance of the November issue’s September editorial deadline. Terry and I met to discuss recipes and possible approaches to wine pairing. My Texas wine pairing task was made more straightforward than you might expect. First, Chef Terry’s recipes are well written prose that make mental manipulation of the major elements of the dish and wine approaches seem straightforward. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, Texas wine growers and winemakers have finally embraced their hot sunny clime (and perhaps their inner Italian). Texas wine country is now a mecca of Mediterranean wine production representing grapes grown locally, but that originate from Italy, Spain, Sardinia, Portugal and southern France.

After our initial meet-up, Terry worked up her recipes and I made several candidate wine selections for each recipe. The size of this task became apparent as we realized that  seven Gulf seafood preparations were involved that required two or three candidate Texas wines for each course to pair.


Then, the big night came. Terry and I and my wife Delia, got together at Terry’s house in Fredericksburg where she prepared three plates for each recipe for us to taste alongside two or three (and sometimes more) of my Texas wine selections. We voted separately for our favorites and as you will see, there were times when one wine just wasn’t sufficient. There are several ways to approach wine and food pairing: intensity and weight of the cuisine, ethnic origin, similar or contrasting flavor elements, and synergistic aspects (as with a hint of sweetness with the heat of the chili or a splash of brisk acidity with a buttery, creamy sauce).

At the finish of a grand evening, I tallied our votes and came up with the wine pairing notes that highlight the Texas wines that did very well alongside Terry’s gulf seafood offerings.


The following are Chef Terry’s Seven Fishes Feast recipes (that are linked to the Edible Austin website) along with our Texas wine selections (with links back to their corresponding winery websites for more information along with availability and ordering details):


I hope you have a fantastic holiday season no matter what your ethnic or religious persuasion. Celebrate and toast the occasion with your favorite Texas wine.

All Texas wines featured in this article were Texas appellation, meaning that they were made from 75 percent or more Texas-grown grapes. These wines are available at the wineries, many of which offer online sales and shipping to your home or drop ship location (with adult signature upon receipt). Some are distributed and found in local markets (Central Market and Whole Foods in Texas) and wine stores, and especially at Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods across the state.

NOTE: Please be advised that wines from Texas wineries that display “For Sale in Texas Only” on their labels are not generally made from locally grown Texas grapes. Please support Texas wineries that have signed the Texas Winery and Winemaker Pledge.

 Posted by at 12:21 pm
Nov 252013


Interesting Insights into Texas Wine from 2014 Houston Rodeo Gold

The 2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition judging boasted 2,505 entries, including wines from over 40 Texas wineries and 16 different countries. Medals were awarded to 2,212 wines by 20 panels of judges, consisting of wine experts, collectors and knowledgeable consumers. The total list of wining wines is available on the Houston Livestock Show Website and the complete list of Texas winners has been compiled by Jeff Cope at TXwinelover.com. The long list of Texas winery gold medal winners is given at the bottom of this blog.

My mission in this blog is to dig deeper into the results from this year’s wine competition, just focusing on the best-of-the-best: the Texas gold medal winning wines. Believe it or not, it tells a story. It’s a story different from that any other top wine producing states (California, Washington, Oregon and New York) can tell.

The Focus in Texas is NOT to Try to be Like Bordeaux or Burgundy

The bottom line is that Texas wineries are doing their best by not focusing on wines that have become known as the “California Set”. Those wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made famous by Bordeaux and Burgundy wine regions of France.

Only 11% of the gold medal wines from Texas wineries in the 2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition were from this group of wines. These same results indicate that gold medal wines can flow from these grapes in Texas, but everything has to be just right; the vineyard location, the weather, the winemaker, and perhaps even the phase of the Moon.

Texas IS the Mediterranean of the USA

These gold medal results indicate one thing very significant. That is, Texas IS the “Mediterranean of the USA”. Its warm summertime weather works well with grapes from southern Europe and Mediterranean shores of France, Italy and Spain, perhaps better than it does with grapes derived from the cool climes of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

The best examples of what’s working in Texas vineyards and wineries is Tempranillo, a red grape that originates from Spain that is commonly associated with their Rioja region, and red wines and blends made from Syrah, Tempranillo, Mourvedre and Sangiovese. Over 40% of the Rodeo gold medals presented to Texas wineries were for red wines and blends with a Mediterranean lineage. For white wines, it’s Viognier, a grape that similarly comes from the Rhone River Valley in southern France. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
Nov 152013


John Rivenburgh and Bob Young at Bending Branch Winery

You Just “Tannat” Argue with the Success of Texas Tannat: Bending Branch Winery Brings in Gold

Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas, has won the coveted “Top Texas Wine” from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Uncorked!® International Wine Competition. This accolade brings with it the signature saddle award for the winery’s first Hill Country estate-grown Tannat 2011.  Its Texas Tannat, Texas High Plains 2011 also received a double gold medal, earning a Reserve Class Champion award, and its Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards 2010 earned gold.

Robert Young, Bending Branch founder and co-winemaker said,“We are so proud to win Top Texas Wine at the Houston competition, particularly for our first-ever estate Tannat. Our signature grape, Tannat, has found a sweet spot on the planet here and makes a remarkable and distinctive wine.  We couldn’t be more proud to bring home a saddle for our Tannat.”

[Bob- call me when you saddle up your horse for the photo-op!]

These prestigious awards come on the heels of earning two gold and four “Top of Class” medals at the 2014 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition.  Bending Branch Winery won two gold medals for its 2009 Petite Sirah Reserve, Paso Robles and 2009 Petite Sirah Port style, Paso Robles.

Earlier this year, Bending Branch won a prestigious double gold, at the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition.  The 2010 Bending Branch Cabernet Sauvignon, Newsom Vineyards, which received unanimous gold medals from every judge on its panel, is the first 100 percent Texas Cabernet Sauvignon to win double gold in at least 16 years.

2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition Awards

Bending Branch will be presented with its saddle at the Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition on Sunday, Feb. 23.  The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 2014 Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition boasted 2,505 entries, including wines from 40 Texas wineries and 16 different countries.

Bending Branch wines awarded medals at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition include:

  • Top Texas Wine:  Bending Branch Tannat, Estate Grown, Texas Hill Country 2011
  • Class Champion and Double Gold:  Bending Branch Tannat, Estate Grown, Texas Hill Country 2011
  • Reserve Class Champion and Double Gold: Bending Branch Texas Tannat, Texas High Plains, 2011
 Posted by at 12:23 pm
Nov 112013


Haak Vineyards Brings in Old World Gold & Silver with New World Madeira

Haak Vineyards & Winery announced today that it was awarded a Gold and two Silver Medals by the largest international wine competition in the world with over 12,000 entries competing.  The AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge 2013 awards and trophy presentations took place in the imperial ambiance of the Vienna City Hall in the presence of 3,000 invited wine professionals.

All wine entries were judged in an Absolute Blind Tasting in single flights by an international tasting panel. In this way, all wines received a fair chance in the competition. Haak Vineyards & Winery has set the standard for quality, innovation and creative wine styles in today’s wine industry, and in Vienna it did not shy away from the international competition, it scored well.

The Haak winning wines were a 2008 Madeira Blanc Du Bois (Gold), a 2006 Madeira Blanc Du Bois (Silver) and a 2010 Madeira Blanc Du Bois (Silver).

Raymond Haak was honored to join the ranks of world class medal and trophy winners at this prestigious ceremony in the city hall of Vienna, Austria.

Hat’s off to you Raymond (your’s too) and to your lovely wife and business partner, Gladys.

 Posted by at 2:23 pm
Oct 222013


Winners of the 2013 Austin Country Fair Wine Show Judging

On Saturday, October 12, 2013, the Austin County Fair held their 2013 Non-commercial Wine Show and Judging at the Austin County Fairgrounds – Turnverein Building, in Bellville, Texas. The event was coordinated by the Austin County Grape Growers Committee.

In this event, the wines were evaluated by two panels of judges in the following classifications: 1-Red Wine- Dry, 2-Red Wine – Sweet, 3-White Wine – Dry, 4-White Wine – Sweet; 5-Fruit/Berry, 6-Dessert/Port Style, 7-Kit Wine/Non TX Grapes, 8-Kit Wine/Non TX Grapes, 9-Native/Mustang Grape, 10-Blush.

The aim of this competition is to promote local grape growing and winemaking in Austin County and the surrounding area, a region that is rapidly expanding with commercial vineyard and winery operations specializing in Blanc Du Bois and Lenior (Black Spanish) grapes and wines.

Having served on the judges panel several times, I can definitely say that with every year the quality of the wines has increased. This year was no exception!

Featured winners were the Runner Up Best of Show Michael Goode and the Best of Show Martha Tarkington:


and the Best Austin County Produced Wine Billy Schaffner (Representing Billy was his daughter Laurie Michalke, Granddaughter in Law Lauren Michalke, great grandson Sterling Michalke and granddaughter Michaela Fleming):


The complete list of winners of this year’s competition in the various classifications are given below:


 Posted by at 11:20 am
Oct 182013



Join in the fun, meet Russ Kane, Texas Wineslinger, get his book!

Russ Kane, The Texas Wineslinger, at Kiepersol Estate Harvest Festival Scholar’s Tent – Tomorrow Sat. October 19th

Kiepersol’s 2013 Harvest Festival & Grape Stomp celebrates October as Texas Wine Month with a family event at the heart of their East Texas vineyard near Tyler, Texas.

Adult activities include:

  • Scholars tent – visiting speakers get you ‘in the know’ on the latest wine trends, how-to’s and must haves on the Texas wine scene
  • Sangria & Wine by the Glass

Russ Kane will be appearing at the Kiepersol Harvest Festival in the Scholar’s Tent between 2:00 and 3:30 pm tomorrow (Saturday, October 19, 2013) for two presentations titled:

  • “Secrets of the Wine Trail”
  • “Real Cowboys Drink Syrah – A Tasting”.

During this period, he will also be selling autographed and personalized copies of his best-selling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine. Russ’s book has had critical acclaim in Texas, nationally and internationally. International wine luminary Oz Clarke said:

“Doc Russ is the kind of guy who can mix blues, barbecue, and Barbera in a truly Texan way, and as he writes I can smell the mesquite smoke, hear the wailing guitar and chew the High Plains ripe red fruit.”

The festival’s other family activities will run all day and include:

  • Grape Stomping
  • Painting Stomping Shirts with Your Feet
  • Live Music
  • The KE Corkscrew 5K Fun Run
  • Guided Winery Trolley Tours  – Order Tickets Here
  • Cork Art Activity for Kids
  • Artisan Vendors & Visiting Wineries
  • Festival Food brought to you by Ted Camel Foods

Join other Texas wine lovers at the 2013 Kiepersol Harvest Festival. Saturday activities and schedule are show below. We hope to see you there. The weather is beautiful and the wine will be wonderful.

More information on tickets, parking and location for the 2013 Kiepersol Harvest Festival is available online at: http://kiepersol.com/festival/

Visit Kiepersol Estates sister event at Bushman’s featuring the Vietnam Wall Traveling Tribute.

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 Posted by at 10:08 am